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Academy Ties Record for Female Oscar Nominees, But Improvement Is Only Slight

Apart from Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, female nominees don’t outnumber males in any Oscar categories


This year’s Academy Award nominations have tied a record for the most female nominees in a single year, but women still make up less than one-fourth of the total number of Oscar nominees.

According to the Academy’s awards librarian, 40 women were nominated in competitive, non-acting categories this year, with an additional 10 nominated in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories. That ties the record of 50 set two years ago, and is four more than the 46 nominated last year.

But more than 150 men were nominated in acting and non-acting categories, which pushes female representation among the nominees to less than 25 percent.

That’s about the same percentage the Oscars achieved 10 years ago, when there were fewer female nominees (44) but also fewer overall nominees.

In only two categories, Best Costume Design and Best Documentary Short Subject, did Academy voters nominate an equal number of men and women; in no category outside of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress did the female nominees outnumber the males.

And while Rachel Morrison became the first female nominee in the Best Cinematography category and Greta Gerwig only the fifth woman nominated for Best Director, women were completely shut out in three categories — Best Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects — and were in the minority in 14 other categories.

One sign of progress: Where 10 years ago only three women were nominated as producers of Best Picture nominees, this year eight were. But the number of male producers who were nominated grew almost as fast: 12 in 2008, 22 this year.

Of the nine Best Picture nominees, six have both male and female producers, with only “The Post” having more women than men. The other three nominees – “Get Out,” “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” – do not feature any nominated women producers.

Overall, female membership in the Academy has increased from 25 percent in 2015 to 28 percent after two consecutive years of a record number of new member invitations. Those years have seen a 359 percent increase in invitations extended to women – though until women are put in positions of power that make them eligible for Oscar nominations, Academy voters won’t have the chance to cast ballots for them.

On the other hand, women are the central characters in at least four of the nominees (“Lady Bird,” “The Post,” “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards”) and are arguably as central as the male lead in “Phantom Thread” as well.